I have chosen Airbnb for my research on the Individual project. Everyone loves to travel, most of you probably have your own Airbnb experience, but some of you who are reluctant to go on one, it is probably because of the articles about ‘Airbnb stay gone wrong’ and other horror stories about how unsafe Airbnb can be. So I’m writing the paper based on that situation, the research question is:
How can Airbnb use social media in response to crisis situation and recover its reputation?
This research would be valuable when incorporated with its current reputation building strategy, maintain and enhance the positive brand image of Airbnb and eliminate public’s negative perceptions about Airbnb.
In order to find some trends and analysis, Observations were done on the three main platforms namely Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. On top of that, competitors and an anti-Airbnb forum; ‘Airbnb Hell’ was taken into account in the phase of Data Collection.
Basically after analyzing the data, I came up with several findings about the social media platforms.
- great customer service on Facebook and Twitter through its quick responses, assisting tones and friendly customer engagement approach on the smaller everyday cases.
- proactive to produce suggestions to mitigate crisis through Youtube video series
- established on their website that they do not check on every house and guests can put guests can put flag icon to report suspicious behaviors, in which they will check it.
- innovative efforts such as giving out 25,000 free smoke detectors for the hosts and host guarantees & host protection insurances to ensure safety, but this effort is not leveraged to be made aware on social media.
So Even when it has responded to the case well, the stories and experiences focus on the complaints itself and not how Airbnb has positively responded.
So I came up with two methods Airbnb can use their social media platform and it should focus on ensuring that the ‘unsafe and risky’ perception is eliminated from both guests and hosts. So the two strategies are:
- Quick Response and Influencers Engagement
the healing factor and distraction from crisis when a case arise in the future
2. Babyproof Airbnb: a rebranding strategy
focuses on eliminating the negative brand image towards Airbnb.
Babyproof Airbnb is an innovative approach in creating a ‘safe and trustworthy environment’ brand feeling through its association to babies. Babies are relevant as they represent the most fragile object, they need to stay in the clean and safest environment. Although it may seem to be targeted to family with children travelers, the impact is endless as it creates the perception that Airbnb cares about safety and is associated as family friendly. It delivers the message that experiencing Airbnb is so safe, even for the babies.
The strategy consists of several steps including website development and IMC campaign. Firstly, a new filter of lists should be introduced on Airbnb website. Hosts can choose to mark their place as ‘Babyproof’ which is represented by a pacifier icon, to indicate that their place is very safe, even for children and guests should not be concerned about safety while they stay (Appendix F). However, the babyproof icon will only appear once Airbnb verifies the lodge condition through 100% clean track record, no smoking and above 80% positive customer review. Airbnb should also make more frequent physical visits to ensure that the place is in fact worthy of the babyproof icon.
This allows guests who are traveling with their children or who are particularly safe-conscious to have the option to be rest assured about the safety, as there is a new standard that is established to cater these market segment. This could further promote an increase in demand for babyproofed houses, which pressure less clean and places to put more effort in meeting the babyproof standard to increase their demand. Eventually more lists will be babyproofed and overall safety and reputation of Airbnb is elevated.
The second step is to ensure that the public are aware of this movement. The new launch of Babyproof Airbnb campaign should be launched on youtube and shared on Facebook and Instagram. Following up to that, an integrated marketing communication strategy should be implemented in creating the noise in social media. To get current hosts onboard, a competition for hosts should be started on Airbnb Facebook page. The hosts should be incentivized with prizes to post a baby picture at their homes on Instagram linking to Facebook with #BabyproofAirbnb tagging @airbnb. As it has been proven by past campaigns in data collection part, contests are very active in increasing customer engagement.
In the end of the research, I weighed in the evaluation and I believe that more people will not be as scared to experience Airbnb in the future 🙂
alright, that is the content of my last paper in SMU.